Subscribers kick as telecoms operators slam tariff hike on data services

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     NCC unaware of approval for decision, says spokesman
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    The about 10 per cent price adjustment by telecommunications operators on their data services is not sitting well with subscribers in Nigeria.

    The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMs), which argued there was no justification for the hike, said there should have been more formal communications made to customers on the development.

    Two operators, MTN and Airtel, announced an increase in data prices at the weekend via their Twitter handles.

    Airtel, in a reply tweet to a subscriber, had said: “Hello @pixel_savant, apologies for the inconvenience. Please be informed that our bundles have been modified. Kindly note that the N5000 data bundle is now N5500. Thank you. ^Kehinde.”

    An MTN customer had also alerted the telecommunications firm to the fact that she was charged more for a 10GB data plan.

    The customer, @AkinlajaFatimoh, replying to @MTN180, said: “This isn’t about usage, I said I was charged 3,300 instead of 3,000 for a 10GB data plan.”

    Replying, @MTN180 said: “Y’ello. Apologies for the data price review. Please note that there has been a revamp in the prices of some MTN data plans. You may visit https://mtn.ng/personal/data/data-plans/for more information on MTN data plans. Thank you. ~AO.”

    But speaking to The Guardian, the President of NATCOMs, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, who described the situation as unfortunate, wondered if the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) actually approved the plans.

    Ogunbanjo said he doubted if NCC would approve an increase at this time.

    He said: “It is only when NCC approves, that telecoms operators can increase tariff. We know that lots of things are on the increase in Nigeria. But we are not expecting any increase whether in data or voice for now. We are against it. If we study the issue very well and we are not satisfied, we may go to court.

    “Under our Consumer Bill of Right, subscribers ought to be informed before they are subjected to any tariff increase.”

    In a chat with The Guardian, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka, said he was unaware of any approval for tariff hike in the industry.

    Muoka explained that within existing regulation, there is a provision that does not allow operators to adjust tariffs beyond the precincts of the established industry-approved Price Floor and Price Cap, determined since 2018.

    “For voice, the Floor Price is N6.40k, while the Cap is N50. For data, especially for big operators, the Floor Price is 10k/MB, while the Price Cap, which is the industry average, is N355/GB (1024MB/IGB). The operators are not expected to contravene this.

    “If any operator adjusts price, it must not fall below the Price Floor or go above the Price Cap, otherwise such operator will be sanctioned. No other Price Floor or Price Cap is determined for now.”
    MEANWHILE, NCC has alerted Nigerians on a ransomware threat (Blackbyte) to Windows operating system.

    NCC, through its Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT), said the ransomware has the capacity to bypass protections by disabling more than 1,000 drivers used by various security solutions.

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